• [19 July 2002] In February of 2002, CG Talk held their second challenge after a successful 'Pirate' competition in January. It was just what I needed after completing my first demo reel a fews months earlier -- a new project to start the new year!

    The challenge was to create a Post Apocalyptic Vehicle following a set of specific guidelines, such as incorporating different materials like cloth or wood, 6 wheels and an alternative fuel source visible from the outside. The first thought that came to mind was the MadMax films. I thought It matched the theme perfectly. I started doing some research, looking online for photographs of the vehicles used in the films. The movie 'Beyond Thunderdome' had some of the best vehicles in the series. There was this one buggy that caught my attention so I decided to use it as the main reference.

    Modeling
    I started using Maya about 3 years ago while attending a Computer Animation Course in Toronto. To me, it has the most user-friendly interface. I began this model off with 4 poly cylinders for the wheels and a cube for the body. I worked from the side view using the reference photo as an image plane. The model started to take shape once I had the initial frame built. With the frame over top the poly cube I then began to extrude some sections giving the body an engine, a front seat and some other details. I had no plans for the back until catching a glimpse of a US Army dune buggy on some web site. I decided to incorporate some of those ideas into the model, studying even more Military vehicles. The weapon on the right side just happened over time. I set it up so it can rotate about 50 degrees to take out anything electrical. Its just your average EMP Assault Cannon (Electro-Magnetic Pulse ). The Front only seats one and the back can fit a gunner and maybe one more. I seriously had fun building this machine and animating it should be a blast. Think it needs a small trailer hitched to the back? Maybe with a Seadoo or a couple dirt bikes for the Post Apocalyptic Cottage!

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    Chris Smart's buggy in all its glory!


    Wireframe view of the buggy.
  • Texturing
    Although this challenge was on 'Modeling' I was enjoying the creation process so much I just had to add some textures. This is where I really started to surprise myself as it really helped improve my skills with Procedural textures.

    I gathered all the reference material I collected online and began to study the textures in the photos. With a desert landscape you obviously get a lot of sand, dirt, and erosion so I began to experiment. I decided to try a Ramp texture for the wheels. I like the way you can connect any kind of texture into the Ramps Attributes, giving you the freedom to blend and mix multiple combinations in a gradient producing some interesting results. Maya's IPR came in handy while tweaking the textures, I couldn't imagine getting these results with out it...well, maybe not as fast. I continued to experiment with Procedurals, blending various Fractals, Brownians and Noise, eventually getting to what you see. I also used some images for the bump maps like the cloth and the floor texture, which looks a bit repetitive in some shots. I'll be fixing that.

    Lighting
    This was my first true attempt at faking Global Illumination in Maya. I tried a couple GI tutorials that I found online but ended up using a simple setup which is probably not the best. The scene consists of 6 lights, 3 directional lights above, 1 point light and 2 ambient lights under the vehicle. I decided to use RayTracing to get a better feel. I’m still experimenting with the overall lighting and environment as you can tell. I still consider this a work in progress. wink

    Rigging
    When It came time to set the vehicle up for animation things got a little sketchy. I couldn't find one tutorial dealing with Vehicle Rigging, let alone one for Maya -- and I didn't want to skeleton setup. Luckily someone had just released one in March. What timing! The tutorial also dealt with some weapons as well as a skeletal setup for shock absorbers, and a body control for a little bounce and sway. For some secondary animation I decided to add a spline IK to the back Radio Antenna. And while playing a video game called Smugglers Run, I noticed how the engines on the dune buggies shake and vibrate while idle so I decided to connect a circular curve to the engine group to see if i can recreate this effect later. Next up are some Particle Effects for the flying dirt, smoke and other goodies generated by this... beast. Im still trying to figure out a name for it. Any ideas?

    About me
    I'm a 26 year old living in Toronto, born and raised. Ive been drawing since I was a kid, started working in graphic design back in '95 playing with programs like Alias Sketch, Strata Studio, and Bryce. I was introduced to Maya in 1999 while attending a Post Production Computer Animation course at The International Academy of Design here in Toronto. Im currently working on my second Reel, set to be released in July. Check my web site for more info.

    Links
    Cydonian (Chris Smart's website)

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    Wireframe view.


    Wireframe view.


    Maya "fake GI" render.

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